Ontario reports 151 new COVID-19 infections, total rises to 1,144
Published Saturday, March 28, 2020 12:58PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 28, 2020 8:47PM EDT
Ontario health officials reported 151 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, with no new deaths or recoveries, bringing the total to 1,144.
The province says it has 1,118 active cases, eight clinically-confirmed recoveries and 19 deaths, though it cautioned for the first time Saturday that two of those deaths were in patients where no laboratory testing for COVID-19 was ever performed.
Officials confirmed the 19th coronavirus fatality Saturday afternoon. The Middlesex-London Health Unit confirmed the region's first COVID-19 death -- a man in his 70s who had travelled to Portugal earlier this month.
The province reported 135 new cases on Friday, 170 on Thursday, 100 on Wednesday and 85 on Tuesday.
For the second day in a row, provincial officials declined to give out any details about any of the new cases, saying all patient information was “pending” or under investigation.
Toronto Public Health said Saturday that as many as 55 of the new cases on Saturday were from Toronto, with the city’s total case count rising to 512 cases by early Saturday afternoon.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 63 people across Ontario in intensive care. Of those, 46 are in ventilators.
Officials confirmed Saturday 91 healthcare workers had contracted the disease since the first case was reported in January.
The province said it was able to complete 3,424 tests from Friday to Saturday.
Nearly 8,700 people remain under investigation for possible infection.
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said they are making headway on test backlog as more satellite laboratories are opening up.
"The number of cases, we thought they were going to go up by extensively," Williams said. "They did not go up further from what we had on Thursday, uh, but there were some times of lab ramping up and more of quality assurance of our new labs that are coming on board all the time."
The province is currently averaging over 3,000 tests per day. Still, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, said they are aiming for 5,000 per day early this coming week and 19,000 per day by mid-April.
Yaffe said the new labs still need to go through testing to ensure their COVID-19 tests are valid.
"So the first 500 or so tests that each lab does have to be verified by the Ontario public health lab," she said. "So, that's a very quick step, but it has to be done before those numbers can start to go up as well."
Williams said he is optimistic that by the end of the weekend or early part of next week, the province will be doing 5,000 tests per day.
He said he is a bit surprised that the number of daily cases is averaging around the mid-100s. Williams said he expected that number would be up in the 200s.
"I was surprised we haven't jumped up that fast and we'll have to keep monitoring the situation. These are trends and directions one day or two day doesn't tell us everything."
Williams said they are still waiting for instructions from the federal government on how they will implement the quarantine order for returning travellers.
He said it is the second week of the two-week critical period when people are returning from their March break trip. Williams said it is crucial that individuals coming in are informed of what they need to do and self-isolate.
On Friday, the provincial government used the emergency alert system to notify returning travellers to mandatory self-isolate for 14 days.
"I think for the most part they want to do what's right, understand what they're supposed to do and then to get advice on how and what they can or can't do so they can honour the order properly for their period of 14 days," he said.
More than 34,300 people have been tested across the province to date.